Zimbabwe is packed full of visual spectacles that never do anything less than wow. The thunderous Victoria Falls are perhaps what the country is best known for, other than its political and economic turmoil in recent years. An unspoilt and exciting safari awaits in both Hwange and Mana Pools whilst Lake Kariba is the perfect place to spend a few days relaxing. Zimbabwe is in the throes of a tourism renaissance and the combination of superb safari in wilderness areas and excellent value means you should visit right away.
Zimbabwe is a country of great contrasts. Despite suffering political and economic turmoil over the past decade, Zimbabwe continues to offer exceptional safaris with some of the best guiding on the African continent in unspoilt wilderness areas. The country is also home to no less than five UNESCO World Heritage Sites. At times the natural beauty of the country and its wonderful wildlife has been overshadowed by its troubles with few visitors seen in comparison to its more popular neighbouring countries of Botswana, South Africa and Zambia. Slowly visitors have begun to return to Zimbabwe in search of exceptional safaris, shared with few others. With excellent value on offer, low concentrations of visitors and an amazing experience on offer, there has never been a better time to visit Zimbabwe.
The magnificent Victoria Falls have long been a draw for visitors to Zimbabwe. One of the seven natural wonders of the world and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Mosi-oa-Tunya as the Falls are locally known, literally meaning ‘the smoke that thunders’ are a highlight of any visit. As well as the Victoria Falls themselves there are plenty of activities on offer whether you’re thrill seekers in search of white-water rafting and bungee jumping, wanting to see the Falls from above on a helicopter flight or enjoy a sedate river cruise on the Zambezi.
Zimbabwe continues to be a rewarding safari destination with the winning combination of exceptional game viewing and good value compared to the more expensive neighbouring destinations of Botswana and Zambia. Hwange is the country’s flagship national park with an impressive elephant population as well as a healthy population of wild dog. Meanwhile Mana Pools which lies on the Zimbabwean shores of the lower Zambezi offers impressive elephant sightings, canoeing and walking safaris.
For those in search of a more relaxed safari experience, Lake Kariba and Matusadona National Park are the place to go. The construction of the Kariba Dam in the late 1950s has created one of the largest man-made lakes in Africa which can be explored aboard a houseboat or alternatively the lake shore offers rewarding game viewing, exceptional birding and a variety of activities including fishing, walking and boat safaris.
Zimbabwe has a rich history and many cultural sites. The Matobo Hills (formerly known as the Matopos Hills) are the home of unique granite rock formations as well as Cecil Rhodes’ grave and nearby are the famous Khami Ruins. Another site of significant interest is Great Zimbabwe – after which the country is named – a medieval city and UNESCO World Heritage Site. Meanwhile outdoor pursuits abound in the Eastern Highlands on the border between Zimbabwe and Mozambique with horse riding, fly fishing, birding and hiking all on offer as well as some of the most impressive scenery in the country.
On returning from a safari in Hwange National Park, Zimbabwe specialist Pierre described it as one of the most full-on safaris that he has ever experienced in 15 years working in travel. Pierre highly recommends Hwange as a holiday destination for the more seasoned safari-goer. Read on to find out why…